Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What A Weekend

This was the first weekend that truly felt like summer.  On Saturday morning Mr. T and I headed down to Charleston for a high school friend's wedding.  The wedding was beautiful, the venue was set right on the water.  I love any excuse to see my friends from high school, seems like we've never been apart once we get back together.

We woke up early on Sunday and headed towards Columbia to my parent's lake house at Lake Wateree. (the people who named the lake got really creative with this one) They just bought a new boat and Mr. T and I were excited to get out on it.  One of my favorite summertime activities is going out on the lake with family, but now that we're in Greenville we don't get to do that much.  I was so happy we had the opportunity to spend the day there.

Once we arrived we had some lunch and took the pontoon out to Island #13, Johnny's Island.  A lot of people beach their boats up on the side of the island and wade in the water.  Boats blare country music and classic rock while throwing back Budweiser's left and right, confederate flags blowing in the wind off of every boat (except ours).  The exact definition of the red neck yacht club.

After a few hours in the sun, we headed back to have nackies (snacks) and make some drinks.  We got back just in time to avoid the storm that came through.  Mr. T made margaritas and we sipped on them as we watched the storm pass by from the screened porch.

Gotta love an Instagram photo op
 The storm passed and we decided it was safe enough to get back on the water for dinner.  We took a 20 minute boat ride to the Retreat, one of the very few restaurants on our small lake. 

Excuse the terrible hair.  It was mighty windy on the boat!  We came home Sunday night and just sat around chatting with my parents.  Monday morning we slept in, had lunch, and headed back to Greenville.   What a weekend!  Hope y'all had a great long weekend like I did!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Our China Pattern

I didn't think I'd ever be the kind of person to share these things, but after getting deeper into the blogging world, I've realized that someone may actually be interested in reading about these details of my life.  After reading Missy Anne Rinfret's blog, The Penny Pinching Preppy and her post on how she came to choose her china pattern I decided I'd share my decision making process with you, too. 

I come from a family that NEVER uses their fine china.  I think we used it once when one of my sisters brought a boyfriend over for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, and that's it.  It's hard to replace, not dishwasher or microwave safe, and kept way up high in one of our cabinets.  My practical self did not see any advantage of spending way too much money on something that will rarely get used.

** as a side note to Missy, your fine china pattern is beautiful and I am definitely not discounting your decision, you look like a fabulous entertainer and I'm sure you'll get lots of use from what you chose.**

We decided on the Kate Spade Wickford pattern.  All white and somewhat simple, hopefully something that will still be beautiful 30 years down the road.  As much as I loved the trendy pieces, I decided to go for simple because I thought it may have a better chance of not becoming out-dated.

The great thing about the Kate Spade line is that most of the pieces coordinate with others, so if we wanted to get funky, we could always add something like these into the mix.

Kate Spade Wickford Sandpiper Accent Plates

We were also looking for something that was on the dressier side of casual (if there is such a thing), so we could use it for more special occasions, too. 

Wickford Pitcher-  perfect for entertaining

Another great thing about Kate Spade dinnerware is that the company is owned by Lenox.  Lenox offers a breakage replacement program which is good for as long as you own the product.  If you break a piece, they will replace it for 50% of the current suggested retail price.  Not bad, huh?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bacon Vodka, Anyone?

I've recently been hearing a lot about infused vodkas so I've been doing a little research on the topic. While I'm not a huge vodka fan, I do like the idea of infusing different alcohols with fruits and herbs of your choice.  Coincidentally this weekend when I went home, my mom treated us to some of her own strawberry infused vodka.  She served it in these little dainty etched crystal glasses my dad brought home from Austria several years ago. 

The vodka was great, and something about that tiny chilled crystal glass made it even better. Here are some of the combinations I'm interested in trying.

Marshmallow Vodka- think I may be able to get over my aversion to vodka if it tasted like marshmallows

Strawberry Tequila- would be great for margaritas

Watermelon Tequila- perfect for summer

Bacon Vodka- would be so good in a bloody mary!
I've seen several people using a French press to do this, which is so smart.  Just let your liquor and add-ins steep in the French press for a few days, then run it through the filter, and voila! Last night I went through our liquor cabinet to see what we had that might need a little sprucing up.   Found some rum, which is something that I never drink.  I had also just trimmed down my mint plant, so I decided to combine the two.  We'll be having mojitos this weekend!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Monograms and Mimosas

This Saturday three of my bridesmaids and their moms threw a monogram shower for me.  It was so much fun getting to see my friends from college, high school, and even some friends that I've had since preschool.

The wonderful hosts of the afternoon

The theme of the shower was Monograms and Mimosas.  The hosts did such a great job. Not a single detail was missed, from the monogrammed burlap wreath that was on the front door, to our framed save-the-date, and impeccable food and drinks. I was so happy that so many of my girlfriends all came to Columbia for the day.
 I received so many great gifts too.  Hope it's not bad luck, but I think I may start using some of my new monogrammed things already!  I just don't have the patience to wait. Here are a couple my new goodies.

Etched Glass Martini Shaker
Lilly Pulitzer Melamine Serving Tray
Chef's Hat!
West Elm Wooden Cutting Board/Cheese Board
Canvas Basket- Perfect for Tailgating

My Bridesmaids (Minus one)

Thank you to my bridesmaids for hosting this shower, and thank you to all of my friends and family for coming!  If you want to see more pictures from the shower check out my matron of honor (and sister) April's blog.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mekong Vietnamese Restaurant

Today I had the best lunch I've had in a while.  So good that I was inspired to immediately come back and blog about it.  A few months ago, I read  an article about Mekong Restaurant in Edible Upcountry Magazine.  Mekong Restaurant specializes in Vietnamese cuisine, and is located on Wade Hampton Boulevard.  The chef and owner Huy Tran, and what looked like to be his two children, ran the restaurant seamlessly.  Their prices are unbeatable and the food is absolutely delicious.  I did a little bit of research before we went, and we made it a point to order some of the most popular menu items, most importantly the famous
duck buns.

Not quite sure what the portion sizes are, we ordered a plethora of food starting with Mr. T's choice, the Spring Rolls.

They also bring a plate of what I presume to be Vietnamese condiments to your table before your food arrives.  A plate overflowing with a tower of bean sprouts, lime wedges, jalapenos, and freshly picked basil, and mint. All of these are options to be added into your phỏ if your heart desires.

One of my favorite Vietnamese dishes (as pedestrian as it may be) is a Banh Mi.  We selected the Combination Pork Sandwich, or Bánh Mì Đặc Biệt.  Complete with cucumber, cilantro, pickled carrot and daikon, jalapenos, braised pork, pork sausage, and pork meatballs,  this thing is awesome and loaded with flavor. And did I mention the price? $3.99 Yes, you read that right and this was the most expensive bahn mi that they had.

I've never tried phỏ before, but it is well known among Vietnamese cuisine so we decided to try it.  Phỏ actually pronounced more like "fa" is a noodle soup usually served with beef or chicken and rice noodles. We chose to order the Phỏ Bò Viên or Beef Meatballs Phỏ served in a tasty ginger-beef broth.

This is actually half of their portion.  Our waiter was nice enough to split everything in half for Mr. T and I since we were sharing. The entire bowl runs you $6.99. Half would have been plenty for my entire lunch, but did we stop there?  Of course not.

To finish everything off we just had to try the duck bun.  I've had pork buns before, but never a duck bun.  It was awesome.  The duck was sweet and perfectly braised with lots of flavor, a perfect contrast to the tangy and crunchy pickled diakon and carrots that accompanied it.

As we left with our bellies stuffed, we walked around the back of the building to see the herbs that the owner has growing in the parking lot. (I read about this in the Edible Upcountry article, and just had to see for myself)  I expected just a few clay pots with some puny plants, but oh was I wrong.  This man has all the herbs he'll need out there.  What a smart idea for a restaurant owner, so resourceful and very green.

Lunch was a complete success, and I cannot wait to return and try more menu items.  For our first time we wanted to try several items.  We ended up having way too much food, even though our total for everything was only $18.00.  Crazy right?

Mekong Restaurant is located at 2013 Wade Hampton Boulevard in Greenville, SC

Mekong Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Recipe: Seasoned Pretzels

As mentioned in yesterday's post, Mr. T and I went to the Bojangles' Southern 500 NASCAR race this past weekend.  I wanted to bring something for everyone to snack on, but I always have difficulty thinking of things to bring to these kind of events.  What can stay out in the sun for 6+ hours?  What is easy to transport?  What can I bring that can be displayed on disposable/unbreakable dishes? And what will be easy to pick up and eat with no utensils?  Here's my solution.

Seasoned Pretzels

These things are so stinkin' good and so simple to make!  No baking necessary, just a simple assembly of ingredients.  People can't get away from them either.  They're incredibly addicting.  Here's how you make them.

1 lb bag pretzels (I like the thins)
1 package Hidden Valley ranch dressing
1/2 tsp lemon pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cup oil

Mix all ingredients in large ziplock bag or tupperware and let sit 24 hours.

A special thanks to my future mother in law for introducing me to this recipe!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Too Tough To Tame

Well this weekend was an absolute blast.  On Saturday, we went to the Bojangle's Southern 500 NASCAR race in Darlington, SC.

 The day was filled with beer, cars, and ribs.  These aren't just any ribs, either.  They are award-winning, falling off the bone, sweet and savory, best thing you've ever eaten ribs.  And they made enough to feed an army.  

As we arrived at Darlington Raceway, we pulled into the infield and parked near several RVs.  T's uncle manages an RV dealership and every year they bring down several of their RVs to show at the race.  These things are insane, too.  Fully equipped with buttery leather interiors, stainless steel appliances, several flat screen tvs and even crown molding.  Yeah- you read that right.  Crown molding in an RV.  The two best parts about these things is that you always have a nice bathroom to go to (no yucky porta pottys) and when the race starts you can climb on top of them and get a perfect view.

When the race ended we headed back to our lake house at Lake Wateree, where we were celebrating Mother's Day with my family the next day.  We woke up on Sunday and had a great Mother's Day brunch on our screened in porch.  I've recently developed an interest in Depression Glass, and while I was perusing different websites I found a beautiful candy dish to give to my mom from Etsy.

Isn't it just gorgeous?  I love the color, and it's very rare to find one with a lid still in tact.  After all, this thing has been around since the 1940's.  Hope y'all had a great weekend, too!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Grilling Weather

The weather was incredible last night so T and I decided to take our dinner outside.  I picked up a bottle of wine for us on the way home so we had something to sip on while we grilled our dinner.  That morning, I had already started marinating chicken for Greek Chicken Kabobs, one of our favorite summertime recipes.

Greek Chicken Kabobs

1 (8 ounce) container fat-free plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large red onion, cut into wedges
1 large bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
In a large shallow baking dish, mix the yogurt, feta cheese, lemon juice, oregano, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Place the chicken in the dish, and turn to coat. Cover, and marinate at least 3 hours in the refrigerator. 

Preheat an outdoor grill on high heat. 

Thread the chicken, onion wedges, and bell pepper pieces alternately onto skewers. Discard remaining yogurt mixture. 

Grill skewers until the chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. 

We served it with a Greek salad, just a simple combination of romaine, cukes, kalamata olives, pepperoncini peppers, tomatoes, red onion, and feta cheese.  I made a red wine vinaigrette with red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil,  sugar, oregano, salt and pepper.

T and I love grilling out.  Most apartment dwellers don't get the luxury of great outdoor space, but we are very lucky. We have the prettiest space outside complete with a lake, pool, fire pit, tables, and several grills.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Off To The Races

When Mr. T and I asked our moms what they wanted to do for Mother's Day weekend this year, they both shocked us by saying "NASCAR!".  Both of our moms are not the typical NASCAR fans, the total opposite actually.  Last year we spent the same weekend at Darlington Raceway where my mom had her first race experience.  She loved it.   She was enamored by the speed of the cars, the noise, and the incredible people-watching.  So this weekend, we're off to the races!

Here are a few pictures from last year.

Riding Around and Making Friends

Mom and Dad in the Pits

With Mom and MIL to be

Now I don't know if I like NASCAR racing enough to sit in the stands, but our experience has always been a little bit different.  We were able to snag some infield passes through Mr. T's uncle.  He brings several RVs down and that's where we tailgate all day. We had a golf cart to ride in around the infield, and that's where the best people watching and friend making happened.  Once the race started, we climbed to the top of the RV to get a better view of the track.  It's absolutely amazing how loud and fast those cars are.  TV just doesn't do it justice.

We're so excited to celebrate Mother's Day again at the race!  Stay tuned for pictures and stories from our experience.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Crock Pot Update

Well here's an update on my crock pot adventure.  I'd love to say that it was a complete success and I'll be making it over and over again, BUT that's not the case.  The flavor was great but the chicken was waaayyy overdone.  The recipe said to cook it on low for 8 hours, but it really needed about 4.

It still looked great, didn't it?  Too bad it was powdery inside.  Guess I'll know for next time.  On a better note, I served the chicken with one of my favorite summertime side dishes. Sliced tomatoes with goat cheese, balsamic vinegar, and a basil chiffonade.

I love this dish because it's light, colorful, and healthy, but most of all it's super simple! No cooking involved.  Just slice the 'maters, top with the remaining ingredients, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. What are some of your favorite simple summertime dishes?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Crock Pot Chic

I've recently changed jobs, which I love, but the new hours are throwing me off.  Mr. T and I like to eat earlier than later, so getting home at 6:30 and whipping something up is not the easiest task.  To alleviate this problem, I've recently started researching crock pot recipes.  I've got a crock pot on my registry, but this impatient girl just couldn't wait to start cooking.  SO, for the time being I'm using this baby.

Isn't she a beaut!  This actually isn't my exact one, just an identical version of mine, sans the big chip in the top right corner. But no worries, mine still has the harvest gold tone and is adorned with the oh-so-seventies motif of fondue pots and sea food creatures. It was a gift to my mom from a boyfriend before she met my dad.  Mom and Dad are going on their 33rd year of marriage this summer, so this thing is very seasoned to say the least.

The recipe I'm trying tonight is incredibly simple.  I seem to always be drawn to recipes with the fewest amount of ingredients.

Salsa Chicken
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
8 oz sour cream (I used reduced fat)
8 oz salsa
Mix salsa and sour cream in crock pot.  Add chicken breasts and make sure they are fully coated in the liquid.  Cook for 6-8 hours on low heat

THAT'S IT!  Let's hope that it turns out a little more flavorful than that bland name.  If it's a keeper we'll definitely be renaming the recipe.  I'll keep you posted!

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